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Published: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
— Glitter's sparkly days may be over, if scientists get their way.
Because glitter is a microplastic, it poses a potential ecological hazard, scientists told The Independent. The threat is particularly serious to marine animals, who have suffered fatal consequences from consuming plastic that makes its way into the ocean.
Glitter is not just found on cards and decorative items, but also in makeup.
Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 11:35 AM
— The holiday season is officially over, and many are now looking at their New Year’s resolutions, which may include maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
To get a head start, some are participating in Dry January, a month-long break from alcohol. But how effective is it?
Researchers from the University of Sussex conducted a study, published in Health Psychology, to find out.
They examined more than 850 individuals who gave Dry January a try. They then followed up with a questionnaire one month later and another six months later.
After analyzing the results, they found that after six months, participants said they drank less and were not getting drunk as much.
In fact, 72 percent of the subjects had maintained lower levels of harmful drinking and 4 percent were still not drinking after six months.
After just one month, about 62 percent reported having better sleep, 62 percent said they had more energy and 49 percent experienced weight loss.
The changes were also seen for those who did not make it to the end of the challenge. “Even if participants took part but didn’t successfully complete the 31 days, it generally led to a significant decrease across all the measures of alcohol intake,” Richard de Visser said in a statement.
The scientists believe their findings prove the challenge can be used to help reduce drinking long-term, added Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern, a U.K. charity to combat alcohol harm.
“This research,” she said, “is the proof of how, with the help, advice and support we offer throughout the month, our model can really change behaviour and reduce drinking.”
Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 5:03 PM
— Memory loss and confusion are common symptoms of dementia. Now scientists are linking canola oil to the disease in a new report.
Researchers from Temple University recently conducted an experiment, published in Scientific Reports, to determine how the common cooking oil may have an effect on the brain.
To do so, they examined mice that were six months old, dividing them into two groups. One was fed a normal diet, while the other had “a diet supplemented with the equivalent of about two tablespoons of canola oil,” the authors explained.
After observing the animals for 12 months, they weighed them. They found that the mice on the canola oil diet weighed significantly more than those on a regular diet.
They then assessed their working memory, short-term memory and learning ability by administering maze tests. They discovered the mice that had consumed canola oil suffered damage to their working memory. The canola oil-treated mice had reduced levels of amyloid beta 1-40, a protein that serves a beneficial role in the brain.
“As a result of decreased amyloid beta 1-40, animals on the canola oil diet further showed increased formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, with neurons engulfed in amyloid beta 1-42,” the authors said. “The damage was accompanied by a significant decrease in the number of contacts between neurons, indicative of extensive synapse injury. Synapses, the areas where neurons come into contact with one another, play a central role in memory formation and retrieval.”
Their findings suggest canola oil is not beneficial to the brain, especially when it is consumed over long periods of time. Researchers now hope to further their studies to find out exactly how much canola oil can produce changes in the brain and if it can be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy,” lead researcher Domenico Pratico said. “Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”
Published: Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 5:24 PM
— If you're looking for a shooting star so you can make your wish come true, this weekend may just be your lucky opportunity.
The Leonid meteor shower will peak this weekend, providing ideal viewing conditions for millions across the United States. With clear skies predicted by meteorologists in many parts of the country, even amateur stargazers should be able to catch a glimpse of the cosmic spectacle.
Experts say 10 to 25 shooting stars will be visible per hour in areas with clear skies this Friday evening and Saturday morning, according to the Smithsonian. Even for the unlucky, such a high number gives anyone decent odds of sighting one of the meteors.
For those hoping to view the shower this weekend, here's everything you need to know:
What is the Leonid meteor shower?
The Leonid meteors are connected to the comet Tempel-Tuttle, according to David Samuhel, senior meteorologist and astronomy blogger at AccuWeather.
"It makes fairly frequent passes through the inner solar system," he said. "This lays out fresh debris in the path of the Earth's orbit every 33 years."
The Earth actually passes through the debris of the comet, making the falling particles visible as they burn up in the atmosphere. Thanks to clear skies and the absence of moonlight, this year's display should give stargazers a decent show.
Where will the meteor shower be most visible?
First of all, stargazers should get as far away from city lights as possible to avoid light pollution. There's no specific spot in the sky to look. But the shooting stars get their name from the Leo constellation, as their paths in the sky can be traced back to those stars.
Peak time for viewing is from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. ET Saturday.
People living throughout the Southeast, the Northern Plains and California are in luck, as meteorologists are predicting clear skies, ideal for viewing the shower.
Those who reside in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region, the central Plains or the Pacific Northwest, however, may have to travel to other areas if they want to spot a falling star.
"A large storm system will be moving from the Plains into the Great Lakes, and cloudy skies are forecast to dominate much of the eastern half of the nation," meteorologist Kyle Elliot said, according to Accuweather. "Rain and thunderstorms will put an even bigger damper on viewing conditions in many of these areas."
The shower will actually be most visible, with the highest rates of visible meteors, in East Asia.
How intense can a Leonid shower get?
While this weekend's display is sure to impress, it's actually considered a light meteor shower, as opposed to a meteor storm. The last Leonid meteor storm took place in 2002. During storms, thousands of meteors can be spotted in an hour.
In 1833, stargazers reported as many as 72,000 shooting stars per hour, according to National Geographic. In 1966, a group of hunters reported seeing 40 to 50 streaks per second over the duration of 15 minutes.
Scientists currently predict the next major outburst won't take place until 2099. But calculations suggest the comet will be returning closer to Earth in 2031 and 2064, meaning more intense storms may be seen sooner. Smaller showers, such as the one occurring this weekend, happen on a regular basis.
Published: Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 1:23 PM
— This fall marks 20 years since NASA satellites started to continuously observe life on Earth.
To commemorate the monumental discoveries over the years, NASA is sharing stories and videos about how much views from up above have taught us about life on our home planet and the search for life elsewhere.
A new time-lapse animation, shown below, captures 20 years’ worth of the planet’s changing land and ocean life as seen from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of view Sensor, which launched in 1997.
Whether it’s crops, forests or phytoplankton blooms in the ocean, our scientists are tracking Earth’s life from space, and have been doing so for 20 years. pic.twitter.com/9qOU6FsvZ1— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) November 14, 2017
“These are incredibly evocative visualizations of our living planet,” Gene Carl Feldman, an oceanographer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a NASA news release last week. “That’s the Earth. That is it breathing every single day, changing with the seasons, responding to the sun, to the changing winds, ocean currents and temperatures."
Over the past 20 years, NASA scientists have monitored the health of crops, forests and fisheries around the globe and have learned more about the long-term changes across continents and ocean basins, the agency wrote in the news release.